WASHINGTON (21Alive) - President Barack Obama authorized U.S. military strikes in Iraq--if necessary--as a means to protect American interests against a group of rebels seizing control of Iraq.
In a Thursday night primetime address from the State Dining Room, the president says he has approved "targeted" attacks, if needed, against the Islamic State of Iraq & Syria (ISIS) as the group approaches Erbil, Iraq. The United States has a consulate in Erbil.
"We do whatever is necessary to protect our people. We support our allies when they're in danger," the president says. "When the lives of American citizens are at risk, we will take action. That is my responsibility as Commander-in-Chief."
Obama says no U.S. combat troops will be deployed to Iraq.
The president also authorized humanitarian air drops for thousands of refugees trapped by ISIS and prevented from receiving aid on a mountain in northwestern Iraq.
"Today, America is coming to help," Obama adds. "These innocent families are faced with a choice: descend and be slaughtered, or stay and slowly die of hunger."
The refugees consist of Christians and members of Yazidi, a Kurdish-based religious sect.
U.S. military left Iraq in December 2011, more than 8 years after the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
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